One of government’s top priorities is the development of smallholder farmers as an instrument to stimulate growth within the South African agricultural sector. Aligning with government’s vision, the PPECB established its Development Unit in 2013.

The unit works with various sister state owned enterprises to develop small holder farmers to gain greater market access and thereby improve their profitability and sustainability as agri-businesses. Although the unit’s primary focus is on building capacity among smallholder farmers in collaboration with other SOEs, the PPECB‘s development initiatives extend far beyond that.

In addition to developing smallholder farmers, the PPECB hosts an Agri-Export Technologist Programme (AETP) in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Agricultural Sector Education Training Authority (AgriSETA). This is a 12-month learnership programme that awards participants a National Certificate in Perishable Produce Export Technology.

Another development initiative is the Unemployed Graduate Programme, which primarily supports AETP graduates who were not able to find permanent employment. These graduates form part of the PPECB’s seasonal resource pool for the inspectorate, receiving preferential offers when a position becomes available inside the organisation.

Lastly, the PPECB also participates in AgriSETA’s internship programme, which also supports unemployed graduates, placing them at the PPECB to gain valuable work experience in Human Resources (HR), Finance, Internal Audit and Corporate Communications. The internship is a 12-to 18-month programme, after which the candidates have a good chance of being placed at the PPECB if relevant vacancies become available.

The Development Unit is pivotal to increasing the PPECB‘s contribution to the empowerment of previously disadvantaged groups. The unit is committed to continually increasing the number of recipients who benefit, and constantly scans the environment for collaboration opportunities. Through its initiatives, the unit is committed to equipping previously disadvantaged individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to help them enter the perishable products export value chain, and to create more jobs as a result of increased exports.